"Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy."
Max Mayfield, Director, National Hurricane Center
We like to be in control. We like to know that we can alter whatever is going to happen or decide when and how it happens. We like to be comfortable and live in our own world where nothing bad occurs.
All this goes out the window when a natural disaster strikes. In that moment, you realize that you are not in control of anything and, by then, it is already too late.
Each year, we hear of natural disasters across the globe. Everything from hurricanes to tidal waves to volcanoes to earthquakes. 2016 is no different and we have already had some major earthquakes this year. The Kumamoto earthquake in Japan that killed 39 people and the Ecuador earthquake the next day that took the lives of 654 and injured thousands more. Here in the United States, we are also vulnerable to the forces of nature with more notable disasters including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Mt St. Helens, the Joplin tornadoes, the San Fran quake in 1906 and the Galveston Hurricane in 1900 which was the most deadly natural disaster in US history at 12,000 victims.
There's nothing quite like a massive storm or erupting volcano to make someone feel helpless, at least it will for those who failed to prepare. While we cannot control the path the storm takes or when it reaches our homes, we can control how we prepare for it. That is what this article is about, taking the measures necessary to ensure survival in even the worst disasters.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
Doomsday Preppers is a great show and while a majority of those folks are nutcases, they aren't completely wrong in their reasoning for what they do. Sure we laugh and make jokes about them and their bunkers or closets full of canned food but the reality of it is that, when the SHTF, those preppers will be sitting pretty while others may die of starvation or hypothermia. Now the point of this isn't to tell you to grow your hair out, quit your job, buy some land in Montana and become a hermit. That's not reasonable. The point is to watch what these preppers do and determine what weaknesses you have and how you can fix them. Some countermeasures may be easier to achieve than you realize.
I live in Virginia and our main threat here is Atlantic hurricanes. Occasionally, we will catch a piece of one as it skims by us. The pictures in this article, for example, are from hurricane Joaquin skimming by us last October. The thing with hurricanes is that it's not always the wind and rain one has to worry about. With big storms over the ocean come big storm surges on sea-level parts of land. Luckily, most of Eastern Virginia is at sea-level and is a welcome target for any and all storm surges. Therefore, the majority of our natural disasters here lie in major flooding and the complications that follow it. Now I understand that not everyone has to endure hurricanes or tidal flooding. There are Americans who become victim to tornadoes in the midwest, volcanoes in the west and Hawaii, earthquakes nationwide and so on. In that light, I will generalize when providing advice in this article in order to cover as many different audiences as possible.
Perhaps the most important part of being prepared for a natural disaster is to be aware when the chances for a disaster are higher. This means being proactive and watching the news, checking the weather and just being alert. Since you can't just watch the news and not do anything about it, we will move on to the next part, a contingency plan. A contingency plan is exactly what it sounds like, it means "what will I do if disaster strikes me and my family." In your plan, you should include information such as escape routes, rally points (in case you become split up from your loved ones), emergency phone numbers (preferably to someone outside the impacted area), and any other items that you believe your family should know. Believe it or not, when a disaster hits, all civility and courtesy disappear as people will fight tooth and nail for supplies or access to certain areas. It is in times like these that you should do everything you can to keep your family closeby but, should you become separated, they must know how to find you again, most likely at a pre-designated rally point (RP). I must add that during times like these, cell towers normally are locked down and serve primarily for emergency purposes only, so that only stresses the importance of having a plan more, since there will be no contact until meeting up at the RP if you become separated.
With the reality of looters and people even going as far as killing each other over supplies, it is important to acquire these items beforehand and keep them unknown to the public. Since most disasters warrant an evacuation, it would be beneficial to store food, water and other supplies in a tough plastic bin to allow both a centralized stash and quicker, easier loading into a vehicle for evacuations. My wife and I personally use two plastic storage trunks. One has food, water and other supplies while the other one has shelter and camping gear. The goal is to be able to live out of just these boxes for at least a week if things really go south. Another influence in our decision for storage boxes is the fact that our bug-out vehicle is our 2005 Jeep Rubicon. These boxes will hold everything we need and fit nicely side by side in the back while Camber can lay on top. It all comes down to the individual and their preferences, this is merely just an example to get you thinking.
The next recommendation would be to consider a firearm for protection purposes. I understand that not everyone wants to own a firearm yet we live in a country that allows it's citizens to protect themselves. I can guarantee that you will not need to protect yourself more than when that other man with a gun is trying to take your family's food or your vehicle. Just some food for thought and if you do decide to own a firearm, please know it inside and out to ensure safe operation. I personally plan to bring along a pistol, shotgun and a compound bow should I ever need to bug out.
So we have covered the need for a plan, and the need for every family member to know it. We covered food and supplies and the benefits of having all of it in one or two bins for easy loading into a vehicle. We covered the possible need for a firearm. All this can be queued up in your home and ready to go. However, we are not always home. We run errands and go to work. So what happens if a disaster is about to strike while you are away from home and your family? This is where a piece of equipment called a "Get Home Bag" comes in handy. Like a contingency plan, the get home bag is self explanatory. It contains everything you may need to get back home if caught in a disaster scenario. There is no explicit rule on what a get home bag has to look like or what it has in it. My recommendation is to choose a bag, preferably a backpack that is comfortable since you may have to hoof it a few miles home if your vehicle is underwater or otherwise destroyed. In it I would include items to sustain you for at least a day. These may include energy bars, bottles of water, a shelter or emergency blanket, gloves, flashlight, a jacket (preferably waterproof, wet clothing leads to hypothermia), a sturdy knife and anything else you think you may need to get you home safely. As stated before, cell service may disappear in a disaster so it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a good pair of radios, leaving one at home and one in your get home bag, giving your family instructions that if a disaster occurs, you will be able to communicate through the radios. With setting up a get home bag, it will obviously do you no good if you don't have it. Leaving it in your car at home and bringing it into work with you in the day will ensure it is always nearby if you need it.
While we can prepare all our lives for the worst, eventually it will hit when we least expect it. In those moments of fear and chaos, a person will resort to their training. So train how you want to survive and make sure your family is squared away too. It is always the smartest choice to play it safe so should an evacuation be ordered, please heed the warning and skip town as soon as possible. Load up your supplies and your family, taking your most capable vehicle (4WD or AWD preferred) and get as far away from the danger zone as possible. When a natural disaster hits, there's no stopping it. In face of destruction, it is important to remember that possessions and houses are replaceable, family is not. Make the right choices, act quickly and you will survive whatever nature throws your way.
If you found this helpful, please share with your friends. Also, if you have anything to add, feel free to leave it in the comments below! God bless and stay safe out there!